Football: Wallace's mastery adds to Tottenham's misery: Ardiles gets that sinking feeling

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The Independent Online
Leeds United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Tottenham Hotspur. . . . . . . . . . . . . .0

IT MUST have been a PR man who came up with the theory that Tottenham have too much talent at their disposal to go down. No one without a healthy business account to persuade him otherwise could possibly have come up with anything so crass.

Yesterday they were beaten by strikes from Rod Wallace - the first breathtaking, the second routine - but frankly they were fortunate to slip away from Elland Road with only another two further blemishes on their goal difference. 'We are very disappointed,' Ossie Ardiles, their manager, said, voicing the obvious.

'I think we will stay up. If we can continue to show the same fighting spirit we will survive. My team have not become bad players overnight.'

It was also difficult to discern the passion that Ardiles saw. On paper their back four looks a good combination but paper would probably offer more resistance.

This was a dire display from Spurs, who now have only four matches left to arrest a decline that has yielded only two wins in their last 15 League matches. They are only two points ahead of the relegation places but Southampton, who are immediately below them, are improving, while Oldham have matches in hand. Spurs' next two fixtures are against Oldham and Southampton.

Most worrying for them is the state of their rearguard. Leeds could have approached double figures if they had accepted the opportunitues that came their way, most of which were created by the simple expedient of the long ball over the top. Most defences feast on that sort of thing but Gary Mabbutt and Kevin Scott turned as fast as milk.

Brian Deane had three opportunities in the first half, the best of which was a shot that struck the base of a post. Chris Fairclough and Wallace were also close, so it was something of a surprise that it required the sort of goal normally the province of fantasies to make the breakthrough.

Wallace received the ball 15 yards outside his own area on the hour and at first appeared to have been shepherded to a safe area when two Tottenham defenders ushered him to the touchline. Not a bit of it. With a bewildering piece of footwork he left Steve Sedgley, Dean Austin and David Howells kicking at shadows and then curled a shot past Erik Thorsvedt from the edge of the area.

His second was a more human affair, turning and shooting from six yards after Gary McAllister's 89th-minute cross had been knocked into his path by Scott's cut-out.

Leeds United (4-4-2): Lukic; Kelly, Newsome, Wetherall, Sharp; White, Fairclough, McAllister, Speed; Deane, Wallace. Substitutes not used: Strachan, Tinkler, Beeney (gk).

Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Thorstvedt; Austin, Mabbutt, Scott, Edinburgh; Anderton (Campbell, 77), Dozzell, Howells, Sedgley (Hazard, 68); Sheringham, Rosenthal. Substitute not used: Walker (gk).

Referee: R Milford (Bristol).

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